AfterElton.com’s 2009 Visibility Awards!

What?! It’s not enough that we spent the whole year
providing you with insightful news and analysis on gay and bisexual
entertainment – now we have to pick which 2009 projects we think best
represented gay and bisexual men?!

Sorry, we’re getting a little Grinch-y around here come
year-end.

But the fact is, gay and bisexual entertainment-related news
is inexorably linked with the issue of visibility. If you know anything at all
about the history of such entertainment, you know that it’s almost always been
“controversial.” As passionate as the creators of these projects have always been,
there’s been a similarly strong counter-pressure to keep these themes hidden or
under wraps.

As a result, for a website like ours, covering the “news” of
these projects inevitably becomes a question of championing the ones of quality
(and giving the hook to those who don’t measure up, or that reflect poorly on
our community).

In short, the AfterElton.com Visibility Awards are partly
about quality – think of them as our Best of the Year awards – but they’re also
about highlighting those moments where someone or something “gay” had a
well-earned moment in the entertainment spotlight, and we think they did the
rest of our community proud.

(Incidentally, we’re well aware that this has ended up
pretty much being mostly the White Person’s Visibility Awards, but we’d like to
believe that that’s a function of society’s continuing institutional racism,
not any racial insensitivity on our part. In short, please don’t shoot the
messenger!)

Nicholas Rodriguez, Brett
Claywell, Scott Evans and Ron Carlivati:
The Men Behind
the Gay Storyline on One Life to Life (ABC)

If you don’t watch One Life to Live, you’re no doubt
snickering that we chose three soap opera actors and their head writer as our
Men of the Year. But if you’ve been watching One Life to Live’s remarkable gay love triangle as it’s played out
all year on this long-running ABC soap, you know we absolutely made the right
choice.

Sure, it’s a soap, but it’s also some of the best, most
daring writing and acting on television, soap opera or not.

Without a doubt, last year’s groundbreaking gay teen
storyline on As the World Turns opened the door for this storyline, but One Life to Live has since gone places that that other, notoriously
tentative soap never dreamed.

Every day, we’re drawn deeper into the
complicated and passionate love that Officer Fish shares with his old college
flame Kyle Lewis – to the dismay of Kyle’s politically active ex, Nick Chavez. The
show has been both politically pointed, with all the positive characters
arguing in favor of same-sex marriage, and passionately sexual, with Kyle and
Fish (or “Kish”) getting at least as intimate as every other good-looking
character on a daytime drama.

And it when it comes to visibility, it matters to us that three
of the four men we’ve named – Evans,
Rodriguez
, and Carlivati – are
openly gay, and that the fourth, Claywell,
has been so supportive of the show and its attitudes.

Honorable Mention: True,
it was Adam Lambert’s year – so much
so that we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to dedicate still more pixels to his
incredible rise (but we’re not ignoring him completely, as you’ll see below).
And let’s not forget Dustin Lance Black’s
two monumental achievements of 2009
: his award-winning screenplay for Milk, and his touching Oscar acceptance
speech for the script where he told the entire world what he thought Harvey
Milk
would have wanted him to say: “to
all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they
are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that
you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value.”

Dishonorable Mention:
Yes, yes, we’re all completely sick of Perez
Hilton
, but the slime-dwelling attention-whore sank even deeper into the
muck this year, for actions that are best left un-repeated here. But suffice to
say that having ol’ straw-for-brains on Larry
King
to debate same-sex marriage is surely a new media low.

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